Preventing resource guarding
Hi folks! I thought I'd do a post about resource guarding, since someone asked about it.
Resource guarding is when a dog growls, barks, or nips—guards—when you try to take away something it values—a resource. We use this protocol with our puppies to teach them that it’s ok—and even great!—when a person takes away a valued item. Families may need to repeat the exercise at home a few times, but it shouldn’t take much to get the puppy happy and excited about giving up its favorite resources.
Here's a video showing how we work with our litters to teach them the Resource Guarding Prevention Protocol:
This works in three quick and easy steps:
1. Get some of their most favorite treat (a tasty piece of meat or hot dog pieces work well—something super delicious like this, not just any old cookie)
2. With one hand remove the toy (or whatever she's guarding) and with the other hand simultaneously stuff the treat in her mouth.
3. Before she is done with the treat, give her the toy back.
This changes her perception in a couple of important ways:
1. When someone takes one of her favorite things, then she gets something even better in exchange.
2. Then she even gets her toy back!
Dogs quickly realize this is a win-win situation and become very happy about giving things up.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If your dog is exhibiting resource guarding and you think there's any change she may bite you, do not try this yourself, hire a professional trainer or behaviorist to get things started for you.
Like most other behaviors, resource guarding has a genetic component. We do not breed dogs known to have resource guarding and do not see it in our puppies.
If you think your dog is resource guarding, call us immediately. In most cases, it's poorly directed play that we can easily redirect, not true resource guarding.
As I mentioned, we do this protocol with all litters. If you'd like, you can also do it at home. If you aren't having any problems, once a week or once a month would be fine for continued prevention.
This is also a great way to teach "leave it." Use the same protocol, but as you take away the toy and give the treat, say "leave it" and your puppy will learn this command very quickly. When starting to teach "leave it," always give a treat as a reward. This avoids any potential confrontation and also keeps positive associations with this command, making it easier for your puppy to comply.